Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Triggered by Trump, students discuss how it affects them

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Posted on November 03, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Johnna Ossie, News Editor

One in six women will be the victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), there are close to 3,000 victims of sexual assault in the United States each year. Sexual assault is any act of a sexual nature that takes place without the explicit consent of the person acted upon. Victims of sexual assault can struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for years after they are assaulted.

Last week, video recordings of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump were leaked, in which he openly bragged about sexually assaulting women.

Trump is recorded as saying, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

When discussing a woman he tried to have sex with, Trump said, “I moved on her like a bitch.”

When a woman came forward accusing Trump of sexually assaulting her on an airplane, Trump said the woman wasn’t attractive enough for him to assault.

“Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” he said.

This isn’t the first degrading thing that Trump has said about women on record. He tweeted in May 2013, “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military, only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”

Trump started his presidential campaign by generalizing all Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug addicts. He has stated he would like to ban Muslims from entering the US. In 1973, he was sued for violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing tenancy to Black renters. His supporters have been known to become violent, and many have been filmed verbally and physically assaulting people of color while screaming “Trump.”

These are only a sampling of the things he has said, done and vowed to do to women and minorities. His comments have sent of a wave of anxiety and panic across the country.

Jessie VanBenschoten, a Portland local, said that Trump’s words have reminded her of the way her father acted towards her as a child. VanBenschoten reports, “Trump has brought up feelings of fear that remind me of my father, an abusive alcoholic, who would verbally abuse my mother and I with rhetoric similar to Trumps.”

Trump has called women “fat pigs,” “dogs” and “slobs.” He calls women who offend him ugly or makes comments about the fact that they must be menstruating.

“When I was a kid [my father] mercilessly picked on me for being chubby to the point where I battled an eating disorder well into college that still comes out now,” Said VanBenschoten.

Trump promised, in the most recent presidential debate, to do everything in his power to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court in 1973 that declared the government cannot deny a woman’s right to an abortion.

In the debates, he continuously interrupted his opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton. In the most recent debate, Trump interrupted Secretary Clinton 67 times.

Emma Donnelly, a USM sophomore and resident assistant, has been disturbed by Donald Trump’s most recent comments.  

“As a survivor of sexual assault, I find it disturbing and almost personally insulting that people are letting him get away with this and think it’s normal,” Donnelly said. “The fact that someone similar to my perpetrator has the potential to lead this entire country is just absolutely unbelievable, and is honestly my worst nightmare.”

Donnelly described how Trump’s attitude towards women has been particularly upsetting to her: “It’s completely dehumanizing, dangerous, and invalidating.”.

Arwyn Sherman, who works at Shalom House in Portland, said that hearing Trump describe grabbing women’s genitals without their permission brought up a traumatic memory of being groped by a classmate as a young child.

“I remember we were standing in line for recess outside of the classroom and I felt a sensation in between my legs,” Sherman said. “A male classmate had thought it would be funny to grab me there from behind and make a honking noise. His grip was hard and sure of itself. I remember feeling incredibly violated and alone. I think a few girls defended me. I started crying.”

Sherman said that they have been experiencing more symptoms of anxiety as a result of the election.

“I have more panic episodes and have anxiety to the point where I struggle to leave the house,” they said. “I’ve been having post-apocalyptic nightmares again which hasn’t happened since I began treatment for my mental illness six years ago.”

Sherman said one of their biggest fears with a Trump presidency is the hatred he breeds.

“I’m more concerned that racist, rapey people are getting deeply validated in a way that they previously were not,” said Sherman. “I think the damage has been done regardless of who ends up as president. In some ways, this is positive because we have exposed the nasty underbelly of hundred of years of oppression.”

VanBenschoten listed some of her biggest concerns if Trump were to win the election: “The fact that he will be in any way cognizant of the nuclear codes. The fact that we have come so far exposing rape culture, the thought of him, rape culture’s poster boy, running the country is mortifying.”

Sherman added, “I don’t know if it’s Trump that is scaring me more or the fact he has people who want him as our president.…Trump is literally just a product of his upbringing. Trump is responsible for his actions but ultimately what is so scary is that I know men in my life exactly like him.”

The United States has a presidential candidate who reminds citizens of their abusive parents, their rapists, their classmates who violated them, the person who yelled racial slurs at them on the street, or the person who threatened them because of their religion. Trump is literally making American citizens sick through the amount of stress, anxiety and trauma that is being brought up during this election.

“Normally I would tell people ‘I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote,’” Donnelly said,  “but that is no longer true. I genuinely can’t find it in my heart to respect anyone who is voting for Trump. He is dangerous and he is not representative of this country. I cannot fathom why someone would be okay with him being the one our kids look up to.”


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